Rosemary Moon – Bread making evening with the Belles

Last night we had another wonderful cookery demonstration from the fabulous Rosemary Moon – the subject was bread making! 
Rosemary is the author of several cookery books, and runs a fantastic foodie blog  as well as having local links with West Dean College and Transition Chichester
Rosemary soon had us all giggling, her self deprecating humour combined wisdom and experience made a very inspiring evening – it has given me the enthusiasm to try my hand at sourdough bread. (it is Scott’s favourite!)
Rosemary introduced us to the mysteries of bread making, taking us through each stage – she brought some ready prepared bread in true blue Peter style, although we had to battle to use the stove from the lady who was trying to run a slimming club in the other room! (Freshly baked bread might have led her slimmers into temptation!) 
Rosemary covered the following- 
The importance of the Ingredients – what type of flour to use, and how to combine flours – using a mixture of wholemeal and white flour. In addition the importance of good quality food – quality ingredients give a better result – if you are putting in all the effort – you want something that is superior to shop bought bread. By making your own you can have a choice to support local farmers by using British flour. You can also decide what flavourings to add, herbs, nuts or fruit which have to be added before the final proving. 
weighing (critical for sourdough but not so much for other types). We were able to see how the dough should look – giving us the confidence to add more flour or more liquid because we saw how the dough should be. 
Yeast – the varieties an differences between fast acting, dried yeast, fresh yeast and sour dough starters. 
The process, the importance of patience and time – really the hardest element of bread making is having the patience to allow it to develop and rise. As well as giving the dough a proper knead for 6 to 8 minutes. 
One of the many valuable tips she gave was to put the bread into a cold oven, which was a new idea to me, it prevents the loaf splitting during the cooking process. She also suggested that some loaves need to return to the oven to brown the bottoms when they have come out of the tin. I also picked up a tip about gas oven temperatures – it seems the middle is the right temperature, the top a little higher and the bottom lower. Common sense but sometimes these things pass me by! 
By the end of the evening, when everyone had tasted both loaves warm from the oven, we all went away likely to try out the recipes clasped in our hands. Thank you Rosemary!  

Using my loaf!

The lovely sunny weather is perfect for bread making, it is wonderful to leave the dough on a sunny windowsill and see it growing. These foccacia breads to the left a roasted red pepper and paprika while the other is a plain white. I am amazed at how easy it is, very therapeutic kneading the dough. 

this is a seeded pumpkin loaf, I use my slow cooker when it is not so sunny, it maintains a lovely warm steamy atmosphere for the bread to rise. There is nothing quite like a loaf hot from the oven. 

Spring felted wreath version 2!

I did enjoy making the other wreath, but was going to be showing my ladies group how to make one so I thought I would adhere more to the original Bustle and Sew pattern, with a few minor adaptations, little felt flowers and using a heart willow wreath rather than a wooden sewing frame. 
It took some playing with different methods of creating flowers, but in the end I found these were the most satisfying – not only are they simple to make but very easy to do while watching call the midwife, you can save the fiddly bits for the more gruesome birth scenes! I must admit I loved the whole retro thing, especially the lovely fifties dresses, but having watched this programme I am so pleased I was born in the 60’s, it seems that birth control was the fundamental change for women more than getting the vote! 
I have found felt such fun to work with that I might make a few more items, Eternal maker had a beautiful spring cushion on display in the store it was very inspirational. Although these days it is hard to keep ideas at bay and concentrate on the process in hand! 
We had a lovely afternoon tea at Bosham Walk Craft Centre – it is well worth a visit, I had a wonderful piece of victoria sponge I managed to get some beautiful filet lace for £5! There is a fantastic beading stall as well as some fantastic vintage stalls and craft shops. Needless to say we bought some Chilli fudge at the shop on our way home! More walking in order me thinks! 
After walking the dog, I practised making more bread! Still in the experimental stage, this time using Allison’s country Grain flour, and I knew at the early kneading stage it was going to be a lovely loaf! I am beginning to get a feel for the elasticity in the bread. I had a great success with white bread, but I wanted to make something a little more wholesome but wholemeal flour is far too heavy, but this is just right. The dough enhancer is definitely worth using, but I am beginning to wonder at the ceramic tins I bought, they seem to make the bottom of the loaves doughy, although that might be me being too impatient and getting it out of the oven too early! Either way the experimentation continues! I don’t give up easily – and the bread was yummy!  

Coffee Break

I have not abandoned my sewing machine, I have been busy stitching away, but I cannot really share what I am up to as I have to send it to be published! However, I can share with you my little coffee cosy which is published in Sewing World this month. I also wrote about our local sewing group called the Blake Belles.
I was inspired by a small box of ribbons!  This makes a good two or three cups so I needed to keep it warm, but coffee cosy sounds so odd! 
The weekend flew by in warm contentment, I spent most of Saturday playing around with fabric as it was too cold to go anywhere, the snow had settled – the roads icy and hard. 
 I made a fruit cake this week, with a few seeds and nuts in the mixture. I have quite a sweet tooth and so I try to have something on hand that meets my needs but isn’t too calorific, but most importantly is good for me. 
Sleet settled in for the afternoon, but I took the dog for a walk in the wintry conditions but really did not stay out that long – the dog kept on stopping and looking up at me every few moments! 
I made some lovely red pepper soup – I really like the intensity of flavour you get from slow roasting peppers – they are so sweet. I am also trying my hand at bread making, with some success. It is very simple to make the hardest thing is having the patience to wait for it to rise. Like us all it is also about staying warm!